I drive slower and more safely today because of grace. Let me tell you why.
The Blatant Law Breaker
Pat and I were returning to Monticello from a funeral a couple of hours away. Having been gone all day, I was anxious to be home. It turns out I was too anxious. Topping a hill, I saw an Arkansas State Trooper on the side of the road. I had not been using the cruise control, and until that moment had paid no attention to my speed. When I saw the trooper, I looked at my speedometer, and knew I was in trouble. Sure enough, I passed him and a few minutes later, he turned on his blue flashing lights. I pulled to the side of the road and the officer came to my window. First, he asked if I knew how fast I was driving. I answered that I had not been paying attention. The young trooper informed me he had clocked my vehicle at 72 miles per hour and the posted speed limit was 55. In addition, he said that after I passed him, I was still driving 10 miles over the posted limit. The law officer considered that very disrespectful. Immediately I pleaded stupidity and apologized. He took my driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance, and returned to his car, leaving me to sweat under the hot gaze and some choice words of my wife.
The Human Grace Giver
After 10 minutes or so, the officer returned my driver’s license with a written warning. He lectured me on the dangers of speeding, having just come from measuring skid marks at a previous accident. He told me to slow down. I apologized again and promised to do better. As I drove away he followed me for 10 miles to be sure I meant what I said.
The Result of Grace
Grace, undeserved kindness, in any sphere, is amazing. I had blatantly violated the law by driving 17 miles over the posted limit, even passing a law enforcement officer in the process. Imagine that! Seventeen miles per hour over the limit, but I was given grace! The law officer’s attitude and words affected me deeply. So, I thought if he could be that gracious to me, a guilty law-breaker, at least I could obey the speed law. Grace is amazing, and it has an impact. I deserved judgment, but received mercy, and it affected me in a greater way than a ticket would have.
The Primary Function of Grace
Grace, the unmerited favor and pardon of someone toward another, is incredible. It cannot be explained. It certainly is not deserved. From a divine perspective, the primary function of grace is to provide God’s forgiveness for lost sinners…”For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Since every person is a sinner and can never earn salvation, the only way God can pardon sin and save sinners is by means of grace, His unmerited favor. Salvation must be “by grace” because being saved is “not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Did you see that? Salvation cannot be earned; instead, it is “the GIFT of God” (emphasis mine). Grace is a free gift with no strings attached.
The Secondary Function of Grace
A secondary purpose of grace is to make an impact and alter the behavior of the recipient. The law officer’s grace to me had a powerful and unexpected result. It made me want to drive more safely—not because I had to—but because of his undeserved grace to me.
The Products of Grace
Following Paul’s statement that “by grace you have been saved through faith…it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8), he revealed two products of salvation by grace: it eliminates bragging and it elevates service.
Grace Eliminates Bragging
Salvation by grace eliminates bragging because it is “not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:9). Imagine what Heaven would be like if people could earn, work or give enough to get there on their own merit. Don’t you hate being in the presence of braggarts? Imagine spending eternity with people who got to Heaven by their own virtues. That would not be Heaven!
Grace Elevates Service
Salvation by grace elevates service because saved people, “are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). The very reason He created us, and saves us, is so that we may work for Him. We are saved to serve God, and Grace elevates that service, making it acceptable to God. Good works are not for salvation but because of salvation. We are saved without works of any kind, unto works of every kind!
The Divine Grace Giver
God gives grace that saves souls and changes lives. He pardons sin, forgives wrongs, and blots out transgressions by His grace—His undeserved kindness to all who place their faith in Christ. John Newton was right when he wrote: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.” His grace is amazing!